By: Lito Monico C. Lorenzana AdeD Class’60
I have been attending the nightly rituals, novenas, and masses not so much as to pray for the repose of the soul of Augusto (Gus) Dacudao but to listen in on the tributes and accolades paid to him. Why these good words and beautiful thoughts, full of love and warmth are only expressed to the departed when he is no longer around to react is really a puzzle. Wouldn’t it have been better if these are said to him while he was alive and to his face and observe his reactions? I think Gus will enjoy it better.
Another food for thought is that Gus and Fe’s circle of prayer warriors at the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP), all came in droves and did the endless Hail Marys, the Our Fathers and the Glory Be to the Father. I think they have better access to God the Father and the heavenly saints than I. So tonight, I simply want to pay my last respects to the living not the departed; Fe, especially the kids, Joanne, Cecile, and Gerard who in some ways grew up with my Lara and Carlo. As far as Gus is concerned his BCBP friends storming the gates of heaven with their prayers and incantations – St. Peter must have been overwhelmed, unable to stand the pressure and just have to open the pearly gates. Gus is perfectly alright where he is right now.
But I love the tributes from different people – many are also known to me.
But I am a little confused and a little embarrassed – hearing all those nice and wonderful things about Gus – that I am discovering that I really didn’t know Gus that much after all, despite our decades of friendship. That he was well love, a good family man, a good provider is of course a given. But the tributes I hear seem to be describing another man – not the Gus Dacudao, I know. From what I gather, he appears to be really destined for heaven, an “Ilonggo mangaranon”, but saintly – no doubt. You can almost see the halo on his head. One who has never committed a venial sin lest of all a mortal one. He was so pure of heart that one begins to believe that he never could even quarrel with his wife Fe. He was not human! He was deserving of beatification skirting the 5-year Vatican-proscription period for canonization. More importantly, Gus seems to be Superman, Batman, Thanos, Iron Man and the other avengers combined. My image of him was shattered – “TALL, DARK AND…ILONGO”.
So, I thought that I might as well attempt to present Gus, the way I see him in my best lights comparing my perception with the others; having known him since 1950, when we were in Grade 1 at the Ateneo de Davao. That was 71 years ago. Of the original classmates with roots still in Davao, and doing ZOOM every Wednesday, aside from myself are Gamay Sarenas, Dr. Alvin Babista, Dinky Munda, Jimmy San Agustin, and Dr. Ting Valdez.
This is how I know him and perhaps set the record straight.
That he loves to sing is true. That he was an excellent singer with a wonderful voice…is false. But once he gets hold of the microphone in a karaoke bar, he goes berserk and won’t let go. That is the Gus Dacudao I know.
That he sings a wide variety of songs is fiction. He memorized only one which was his paean to his wife Fe: “Two for the Road”. (Fe sings much better). That is the Gus Dacudao I know.
He was a regular guy in college. Coming home from the Boys Scouts Jamboree in America – he taught me the hit song then – “Itsy Bitsy, Teeny Weeny, Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini” – which Lillian (Lim) Robillo, Flora (vda. De Aguinaldo y vda. de Leocadio) and I used to sing. That is the Gus Dacudao I know.
That he was a good debater is not true. But he will drown and bully you with his arguments – whether logical or not, doesn’t matter because he was a walking encyclopedia. That is the Gus Dacudao I know.
But here are the most important facts. He was a great lover – or at least a legend in his own mind. Long before Gus met Fe, we both were enamored with two attractive, articulate, fantastically bright girls in college. We went on several dates until I noticed that the girls prefer Gus than me. I was in love with them – but they were in love with Gus – and Gus was in love with his camera. I should know this. I still have photographs of one of them taken while we romped at the Dacudao beach. Gus was a photographer- an artist nonpareil. He was as passionate with his art as he was as bobo with his women. Until he met the 3rd girl.
Gus was ahead of his time – technologically. He had the first complete home theatre in Davao – imported stereo components installed in his room at their ancestral home in Washington St. Pete Ancheta and I used to stay hours listening to Ray Conniff and of course, “Itsy Bitsy, Teeny Weeny, Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini”
Our class 60 and I have some collection of anecdotes of ourselves, but we will reserve them for when I will write the last obituary for the last classmate. These will all be published in a book upon my demise. So, after Covid, our class 60 will meet without mask and shield and relive the colorful life of this “TALL, DARK AND…ILONGO”.
Let me end my tribute by describing that the ultimate measure of a man is not only a life well lived but that which he leaves behind: his progeny. The elegant Joanne, his eldest who produced an equally gorgeous first granddaughter – apple of his eye; Cecile, a shy and unassuming woman, a late bloomer – but what a bloom she turned out to be; and my favorite, Hardy or Gerard an impish little brother to my son Carlo, transformed into a maverick, politically aware young man who followed his dreams and pursued his one true love abroad. And above all to the gracious and loving specimen of a woman and a mother, Ofelia del Rosario Dacudao – the last woman in Gus life – who loved and cared for Gus to the very end. Such women are more precious than gems.
If we were not on Zoom my wife Sylvia, daughter Lara and son Carlo and I would drink a glass to her. She had a perfect life with Gus.